~ This band is an unsung hero, and an absolute gem. I love the way they blend a more melancholic melody with positive material.
9. Lakes - The Agreement
~ Beautifully original pop-rock. Never thought I'd use beautiful and pop-rock in the same sentence, ever.
8. You, Me, and Everyone We Know - Some Things Don't Wash Out
~ Might have been higher on the list, but there were one or two throw-away tracks on this album. However, songs like "Livin Th' Dream", and "Some Things Don't Wash Out" overshadow them enough to include on this list.
7. The Wonder Years - The Upsides
~ I'm pretty sure they don't get more honest than someone like "Soupy" from The Wonder Years. He's pretty much captured the life of a twenty-something in a town which he seems to have a growing distaste for. He's not afraid to say exactly what's on his mind in a song, and as a fellow songwriter, there's nothing more admirable than that.
6. Jeff Martin & Steven Padin - The First Joke & Other Matters
~ The acoustic version of a band which called it quits WAY too early; This Day & Age. Jeff Martin's tracks are beautiful, and it sucks that he's not writing music on a regular basis because no one crafts a more simply beautiful melody than him.
5. Mumford & Sons - Sigh No More
~ A band that's exponentially climbing in popularity daily around the world, and desveredly so. This album has pretty much everything you could want. Awesome instrumentals, emotionally relative lyrics, and a very distinguished and charismatic frontman.
4. Kanye West - My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy
~ Kanye's best album he's ever released in his career. Mainstream hip-hop doesn't get much better. I am VERY picky when it comes to hip-hop. I like it, but the artist has to really strike me with something sharp, and Kanye's album was as sharp as a knife.
3. Shad - TSOL
~ To have two hip-hop albums in my Top 10 shocks me, but this was a great year for the genre. Shad is an artist that is big in Canada, and should rightfully be more vastly known here in the States. It was tough between him and Kanye as the top hip-hop artist and album of the year, but Shad gets the nod for having NO fillers on TSOL. Every track on this album tells another story, and the production (from a myriad list of different names), is top-notch.
2. Valencia - Dancing With a Ghost
~ Some of you know that I boast a lot about this album, and may be surprised that this is not my favorite. Well, it was recently beat out, but Valencia outdid themselves on Dancing With a Ghost. Shane Henderson is one of my favorite songwriters, and his overall theme of change and how we all deal with it in different ways is perfect for my personal situation. Many Valencia fans say that this was a step down from their 2008 release We All Need a Reason To Believe, but I disagree wholeheartedly. This is my favorite album of theirs, and for good reason. It has plenty more variables musically, when their previous album seemed to play it safe and stay on the same track for 11 songs. Although it didn't get my nod for album of the year, "Losing Sleep" gets the nod for song of the year. If you haven't listened yet, then you're either dead or stupid. Please rectify this post-haste!
1. Transit - Keep This to Yourself
~ New England hardcore has something more to boast about, and they go by Transit. This album is fantastic in every possible way. Characterized as "Aggressive pop-punk", they take that tag, and run with it. Keep This to Yourself is just about as good as it gets, and brings a new flavor to an overall improving genre. Songs like "A Living Diary" and "Please, Head North" make this the number one album, as they blend old-school emotional hardcore with new-school pop-punk melodies. The guitar-work, at least for me, makes this album stand out, as their leads and transitions are something unheard of for a pop-punk band. There are certainly no throw-away tracks on this album, which made them, for a lack of a better term, shoe-in for my number one album of the year.